Palestinians drown trying to reach Gaza aid air-dropped by US into sea

Pentagon confirms three of 18 packages airdropped on Monday had parachute malfunctions

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 27 March 2024 09:07 GMT
Palestinians are forced to swim to get the aid dropped in Gaza

At least 12 Palestinians drowned and six others were trampled to death when people rushed to collect air-dropped American aid packages off the northern Gaza coast, local authorities said.

The Pentagon confirmed that three of the 18 packages it air-dropped on Monday had parachute malfunctions and fell into the water just off the coast of the Strip. However, US officials did not confirm if any Gazans were killed while trying to reach the aid.

Footage of the incident showed people running towards the site of the airdrop as parcels descended upon a beach in Beit Lahia in north Gaza, with some falling onto the shore and others into the sea.

A graphic video showed people performing CPR on several unresponsive victims in a desperate attempt to resuscitate them. One person was heard saying: “It’s over.”

"He swam to get food for his children and he was martyred," said a man standing on the beach who did not give his name, referring to a young man who died by drowning.

"They should deliver aid through the (overland) crossings. Why are they doing this to us?”

It was not the first time people in conflict-torn Gaza died during aid deliveries. Earlier this month, authorities in Gaza said at least five people died and many were wounded after airdropped aid packages fell on them.

Humanitarian aid is dropped on the Gaza Strip, west of Gaza Cit (AFP via Getty Images)

It comes amid stark warnings from UN agencies which said people in Gaza were facing a "cruel death by famine" as Israel’s offensive is set to enter its sixth month, causing shortages of food, water, and medical supplies. Some people have reportedly resorted to foraging for weeds to eat and baking barely edible bread made from animal feed.

People rush to collect aid packages (REUTERS)

Aid agencies say only about a fifth of the required supplies are entering Gaza as distribution of aid has been complicated, particularly in the north. The UN has accused the Israeli authorities of restricting aid supplies, while Israel has said it has no restrictions in place and that any lack of aid is due to logistical failures by international agencies.

Last month, health authorities in Gaza said Israeli troops killed more than 100 people trying to take aid from a convoy.

Israel’s military disputed that account, saying people who had rushed the convoy had been crushed to death by the crowd or aid trucks.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres urged Israel to give an "ironclad commitment" for unfettered aid access into the Gaza Strip and described the number of trucks blocked at the border as "a moral outrage".

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